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The Splendor Falls    by Rosemary Clement-Moore Amazon.com order for
Splendor Falls
by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The Splendor Falls is a haunting story, perfect for this time of year even through it takes place in the summer. Rosemary Clement-Moore has penned what could be considered a modern-day gothic on many levels.

Sylvie Davis was on her way to becoming a prima ballerina as the youngest principal dancer ever until a fall ended her career. Shortly after that, her mom remarried (a psychiatrist) and Sylvie got drunk at their wedding in front of her new step-brother, a psychology major. Feeling that her broken leg and her mom's marriage have proved too much for her, the family sends her to visit her dad's cousin Paula at the ancestral home in Alabama.

Sylvie has only vaguely heard of her father's family and was unprepared for the mansion that Paula is turning into an inn. Bluestone Hill is a grand old house once known for its beautiful gardens. The house has a past, though, tied up in the Civil War and small town politics, resulting in its being overrun by ghosts. There is also the mysterious Bluestone from which the house gets its name a stone similar to those of Stonehenge.

Within hours of her arrival, Sylvie has two boys competing for her attention straightforward Welsh Rhys Griffith who is helping his father research a legend from their homeland, and charming Shawn Mattox, the head of the Teen Town Council and son of the biggest politician in Mattox Landing. Legend in this once-prospering town says that it is good luck for a Mattox and a Davis to get together, and Sylvie feels the pressure almost immediately. However, something strange is going on at Bluestone Hill and Sylvie must delve into the mysteries of the past before she can think about her future or even her present.

The Splendor Falls has many elements of a gothic novel. The unwanted heroine is taken to an old house to live with distant relatives who see her more as help than a house guest. Once there, she meets a mysterious man or two and learns of secrets within the old home. Eerie things happen because of these secrets and her new relationship is put to the test. In the end, though, the mystery is solved and she gets the man for her.

Aside from the story elements, Clement-Moore was also able to capture the gothic atmosphere, except that sometimes the eerie moments are too short with not enough build up. Also, the title is more existential than a typical gothic title, which might have been Bluestone Hill or The Heir to Bluestone Hill or something of that ilk. However, the atmosphere of the house and romance are dead-on for the genre. While this is a long novel, Rosemary Clement-Moore keeps the pace steady, building up to a real page-turner. Young adult fans of gothic stories will really enjoy The Splendor Falls.

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